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  • Landmark Essays on Rhetoric and Feminism, 1973–2000 ed. by Cheryl Glenn and Andrea Lunsford
  • Rosalyn Collings Eves
Landmark Essays on Rhetoric and Feminism, 1973–2000. Edited by Cheryl Glenn and Andrea Lunsford. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015; pp. viii + 266 $185.00 cloth; $54.95 paper.

Historically, rhetoric has had little to do with women (or feminism) other than sharing marginalization within the academy. However, as this collection makes clear, viewing rhetoric and feminism in context with one another reveals the ways they interanimate each other, challenge traditional academic thought, and occasionally fall victim to "conscious and unconscious hierarchies and exclusions" (Ede, Glenn, Lunsford, 248). Landmark Essays on Rhetoric and Feminism begins with an editor's introduction contextualizing the seventeen essays through a brief history of feminism. The editors organize the essays by feminist rhetorical means: recovery and recuperation; methods and methodologies; feminist practices and performances; pedagogical applications and implications; and new theories and histories.

The first section, "Introductory Moves," describes early scholarly efforts examining women's language. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell's "The Rhetoric of Women's Liberation" (1973) argues women's liberation merits distinct examination as a movement because it claims unique substance and a distinctive "anti-rhetorical" style focused on the raising of consciousness (22). Cheris Kramer (Kramerae)'s "Woman's Speech: Separate but Equal" (1974) cautions against essentialist thinking while reviewing the scant extant research on sex role differences in communication. Although these introductory essays lack the nuance of those that follow, they provide important groundwork.

Section two, "Rhetoric and Recuperation," profiles some of the earliest work recovering feminist rhetors and sets the theories and methodologies that follow. Barbara Biesecker's "Coming to Terms with Recent Attempts to Write Women into the History of Rhetoric" (1992) rejects the underlying [End Page 160] methodology in existing feminist recovery work at the time, which uses traditional rhetorical standards to "prove" women's rhetorical prowess. Biesecker provides an alternate methodology for recovery work, arguing that scholars can better articulate the polyvalent voices of history and the circumstances that allow individual voices to emerge by attending to a speaker's temporal and spatial context. Cheryl Glenn's "Sex, Lies, and Manuscript: Refiguring Aspasia in the History of Rhetoric" (1994) responds to Biesecker's call by locating Aspasia of Miletus in the male-dominated rhetorical tradition and questioning the standards used to judge rhetorical success. Shirley Wilson Logan's "Black Women on the Speaker's Platform (1832–1899)" (1997) introduces readers to more than a dozen African American women who contributed significantly to conversations about race and women's rights in nineteenth-century America and illustrates the "interwoven consequences of African existence in America" (85). Together, these essays "remap our notion of rhetorical history" (Glenn, 78) through (then) innovative methods and attention to source material.

Section Three, "Methods and Methodologies," begins with Susan Jarratt's "Speaking to the Past: Feminist Historiography in Rhetoric" (1990). Jarratt articulates a feminist historiography that sees "history-writing as a social practice" that interrogates "dominant discourses on gender" (106). Borrowing from feminist and postcolonial critics, Jarratt argues that researchers must pay attention to the theoretical and material locations of speakers and researchers to avoid taxonomizing or essentializing women. Jacqueline Jones Royster's "When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own" (1995) demonstrates through her own experience that "voice" is not singular nor static and cannot be taken as "a central manifestation of subjectivity" (123). Patricia Bizzell's "Feminist Methods of Research in the History of Rhetoric: What Difference Do They Make?" (2000) articulates key feminist research moves: traditional archival work to uncover untold stories; passionate attachment to one's research subject (borrowing heavily from Jackie Royster's "afra-feminist" methodology); inviting community participation; and research with a "commitment to social responsibility" (Royster, qtd. 142). Collectively, these three essays offer a useful overview of feminist methodologies while raising important questions about ethics and responsibility in historiography.

Section four, "Practices and Performances," illustrates the ways "women's rhetorical performances often demonstrate various options for delivering [End Page 161] a message, including recursiveness and repetition, silence, listening, collaboration, invitation, and translingualism" (9). The first two essays are themselves performances: Audre Lord's "Transformation of Silence...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5238
Print ISSN
1094-8392
Pages
pp. 160-163
Launched on MUSE
2019-03-06
Open Access
No
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